BALL STATE: 2 Days and Counting

The Toledo Rockets (2-2) look to get off to a good start in MAC action with a road trip to Muncie, Ind., to take on Ball State (0-4) this Saturday at noon. What are the key match ups that the Midnight Blue and Gold must control to open up conference play with an always important conference road win?

In just a few more days the Toledo Rockets open up Mid-American Conference action with a road game in Muncie, Ind., against the Ball State Cardinals. While there are lots of critical one-on-one battles to be won on the football field, Rocket Digest highlights two particular areas that may determine the outcome of Saturday's game.

Mike Ward vs. Kelly Page
When the Rockets and Ball State meet in Muncie, Ind., this weekend, it will be just Page's fourth career start at the collegiate level. Toledo will try to press that advantage by showing multiple looks to try and confuse to the Cardinals signal caller.

In the first few weeks of the season, the Rockets coaching staff has shown there is no hesitation to blitz from the secondary, and it wouldn't shock me to see safeties, the "star's" or even the corners coming early and often. Even if Toledo doesn't get to Page before the ball is out, a quarterback can only be hit so many times before it takes its toll and begins forcing rushed passes and poor footwork.

Along with rushing Page, a well-managed attack style defense will also apply stress to a relatively new offensive line that may still be working to gel as a unit. In an offense that's struggled to move the ball, false start or holding penalties often end up as drive killers.

Aaron Opelt vs. Sean Baker
If the Cardinals are going to get on track when the Rockets come to Muncie, it'll take a combination of improved efforts on both sides of the ball. On the defensive side, that all starts with strong safety Sean Baker.

As a freshman last season Sean Baker did everything on the way to hauling in MAC Freshman of the Year honors. At 6-foot-1, 205-pounds, he can both run and hit. In 13 starts last season Baker finished with 94 tackles, 6 interceptions and 10 pass break ups. He's got the potential to do it all.

To compensate for what Baker can do on the field, the Rockets need an intelligent game from quarterback Aaron Opelt. Pre-snap reads will play a large, large role in pushing whatever impact that Baker can have straight out of the picture.

On running plays Opelt, along with the offensive line, calling out the correct blocks will make all the difference in keeping Baker away from the play. On passing plays, watch for Opelt to use his eyes as misdirection before looking for his primary target.

Coming Up
On Monday – 5 Numbers to Note
On Tuesday – 4 Names to Know
On Wednesday – 3 Big Concerns
On Thursday – 2 Key Match-Ups
On Friday – 1 Bold Prediction

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